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Success Story: Krisnick, Tom Panetta

Success Story: Krisnick, Tom Panetta

Who are some of the biggest influences on your art?
When I was in high school, Francis Dubon was both my art history teacher and color and design teacher. She always encouraged me as an artist. She actually did the artwork for my business card logo and price tags.
I’ve also been heavily influenced by the folk artist, William Roy. We were placed next to each other at my very first trade show, and he was one of the first people I met there. His style of woodworking and the stories behind the creation of each of his pieces made an impact on me. I remember when nearing the end of every show, he would have to put out a sign that read “sold out.”
Krisnick: Tom Panetta

Krisnick: Tom Panetta

Where did the name Krisnick come from?
When I started out, I mainly did sculptures of Santas. Krisnick is the combination of Kris Kringle and St. Nicholas. I eventually expanded into other categories. As I listened to the customers, I realized they would also be interested in fall and spring items. Those seasons have become a big part of my business, too.
Handmade Santa by Krisnick

Handmade Santa by Krisnick

What did you do before you started Krisnick?
When I first got out of high school, I worked as a chef on Sanibel Island in the winter, and locally as a landscaper and chef in the summer. The owners and I became life long friends. Creating has always been a part of me, whether it was the in kitchen or in someone’s garden.
I have collected Santa Clauses since I was in my early twenties, I would go to art shows to buy them. As time went on, less and less people were making Santas. In 1996, I decided to try it myself and create my own collection. I knew what I wanted, and had fun creating new and interesting pieces. People were always asking me where I got each piece, so I started creating for family and friends.
The Heart of the Country Show in Lititz was my very first show. I went as a customer for years, so when I got in, I was beyond thrilled. The very first show was a success, and my first customer, out of New York, still buys from me today. I started making more pieces during the winter. Eventually the demand grew enough that I could make a living and give up landscaping.
How long have you been sculpting?
I started sculpting in high school. I was always sculpting for myself, family, and friends. Not until 1996 did sculpting become my way of making a living.
What is your process like?
I mix the materials for the sculptures myself. It is a combination of clay, plaster and paper pulp. After I sculpt, I let them dry. If I need to make any adjustments I carve or sand the piece; then I hand paint each one. I mix colors, continuously combining hues until I get the exact color I’m looking for. Then I use an oil base stain to give it an antique look.
Next, I embellish it. I either use an adhesive, glue, drill, or I’ll hand tie it with twine. Finally, I put it through an aging process. I have my own 5 step aging process to make it look like it’s been around for 100 years. My sculptures are made to be heirlooms to be passed down for years to come.
Snowman by Krisnick

A cheerful snowman handmade by Tom Panetta.

Describe the moment you first discovered your passion for your creating?
I’ve always loved the holidays. My parents really made them so special for my sister and me, so creating for the holidays is such a magical thing. Listening to feedback from my customers gives me direction. That is why I now create for Thanksgiving, Halloween, & patriotic holidays.
If you could cook for any person, living or dead, who would it be?
My family has been so supportive of Krisnick throughout the years, and they have been such a major influence in my life. I would love to have the opportunity to host a party for my family and friends that have passed. It would have to be a Thanksgiving or Christmas feast.
What’s your advice for people who want to follow their passion like you do?
You must love what you do. Listen to your customers. Don’t try to take the easy route and copy someone else’s work. Make it your own and do something new. Talk to other people in the business. In this industry people are kind and more than willing to help you succeed by sharing their successes and failures.
Jackolantern by Krisnick

Unique jack-o-lanterns handmade by Krisnick.

What can we expect at the Market Square Show in February.
Every piece is handmade, one of a kind and carries a special story. I am also working on a new line of Bee skeps, and I will offer the entire line in traditional colors, as well as, all new fresh colors. Well, of course, you can expect my Aunt Nancy’s homemade chocolate chip cookies.
Where can people contact you to find out more about your work?
Follow Krisnick on Facebook and instant message me with any questions.